If you’ve had difficulty getting pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy to term, egg donation and/or surrogacy can be a wonderful option to grow your family.
Many people who have undergone fertility treatments without success choose to use donor eggs and a gestational carrier surrogate, and are very happy with their decision. The surrogate egg donor process can be a blessing. It’s a special way to fulfill your dreams of parenthood.
What Is Egg Donation?
Egg donation is the process of a fertile woman donating her eggs to allow another woman to conceive a child. Whether she’s the intended parent herself, or a surrogate egg donor for another person or couple.
Egg donation is a very effective treatment for infertility caused by decreased ovarian function. Although this can occur at any age, it is much more common in women in their late 30s and 40s.
For women unable to conceive using their own eggs, donor eggs offer the highest pregnancy and delivery rates of any fertility treatment. This practice is becoming more and more common. In fact, more than 30,000 patients annually use donor eggs to help create their families.
Why Families Use An Egg Donor
Some couples know right off the bat that they will require donor eggs. For other parents, they may discover they need an egg donor after trying unsuccessfully to have children on their own.
There are several reasons a couple may look to egg donation and surrogacy to have a baby. Some of those reasons include:
- Women who want to be moms, but carry genetic conditions that could pose a threat to their child.
- Women facing infertility or a medical condition that prevents them from having a child.
- Diminished ovarian reserve.
- Onset of premature menopause.
- Women who have undergone a hysterectomy or were born without ovaries.
- Exposure to toxins such as chemotherapy or radiation.
- Multiple failed In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycles, particularly if there was poor embryo quality
However you’ve arrived at egg donation to become parents, building your family through this process is a wonderful way to fulfill your parenting dreams.
In-Vitro Fertilization and Egg Donation
The egg donation process will always include In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Meaning sperm (your partner’s or donated) will be combined with the donor egg outside of the body to produce fertilization.
When the embryos are ready and prove to be viable, they are transferred into the uterus of the intended mother. Or, in the case of surrogacy, the gestational carrier. The recipient of the embryo will be required to take IVF medications prior to transfer in order to prepare her body for a pregnancy.
How Does The Surrogate Egg Donor Process Work?
At almost every surrogacy agency, including Surrogacy By Faith, surrogate embryos are created through the IVF process.
If the intended parent has viable eggs, she may choose to use her own eggs so she will have a genetic connection to her child. But if she needs a surrogate egg donor, those eggs will be harvested, fertilized through IVF, and placed into a gestational carrier.
Egg Donation and Gestational Vs. Traditional Surrogacy
Sometimes it’s not just the egg or sperm that is causing challenges to pregnancy, there may be issues with the uterus itself. For women who’ve been unable to carry a healthy pregnancy to term, surrogacy may be the answer to their prayers.
There are two types of surrogacy, gestational and traditional surrogacy. Only one (gestational) requires a surrogate egg donor. You might already have a surrogate or gestational carrier in mind, but most intended parents choose to find one with the help of a surrogacy agency.
Let’s take a closer look at the two types of surrogacy, to be sure everyone understands the difference between the two.
This is where the woman becomes pregnant with her own egg, which is fertilized by the intended father’s sperm or donor sperm. The surrogate is therefore genetically related to the child.
Most agencies do not offer traditional surrogacy, as there are both legal and emotional implications to this process. Generally couples who pursue traditional surrogacy make arrangements on their own.
This is the more common process where an egg from the intended mother or an egg donor is fertilized by sperm from the intended father or donor sperm through In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The resulting embryo is then transferred to the gestational carrier, who will not be genetically related to the baby.
Surrogacy agencies almost exclusively offer gestational surrogacy. The agency helps screen potential surrogates and match intended parents with the right surrogate for their family. Agencies also manage the legal and administrative side of the surrogacy process. In addition to helping both intended parents and surrogate through each step of the surrogacy journey.
The Process Of Becoming An Egg Donor
Many women who become egg donors do so because someone close to them has experienced infertility and they want to help other couples overcome that challenge. Or they are parents themselves, and wish to share that same joy with others.
All egg donors should be legal adults, preferably between the ages of 21 and 34. The reason for the age minimum is to ensure the donor is mature enough to understand the process and provide informed consent. The upper age limit is because younger women typically respond more favorably to ovarian stimulation. They also produce more eggs and high-quality embryos with a greater chance of implantation.
Potential donors will undergo a full series of medical tests and screenings to ensure they are in good health and psychologically prepared to undergo the procedure. Surrogate egg donors will also have various blood tests to rule out genetic conditions.
Once a donor has been fully tested and cleared, attorneys will draw up a contract to be signed by both donor and intended parents. Then the surrogate egg donor begins a medication regimen to stimulate their ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
Different Types Of Egg Donations
There are 3 different types of egg donation: Known Egg Donation, Semi-Known Egg Donation and Anonymous Egg Donation. It mostly depends on how much contact you have with the woman who will be your surrogate egg donor.
Known Egg Donation:
In a known egg donation situation, contact information is shared between egg donors and intended parents. This allows you to build a relationship, get to know each other, and potentially have contact with each other in the future, should you desire.
Semi-Known Egg Donation:
In this type of egg donation, first names and area of residence are shared between the surrogate egg donor and intended parents. Then, donors and parents may choose to have some limited (and anonymous) contact with each other.
Anonymous Egg Donation:
With anonymous egg donation, you will not know the identity of the woman whose eggs you use for IVF. Donors are usually found through egg donation programs or through agencies.
Only non-identifying information will be exchanged between the intended parents and their donor. There is no direct contact. Any communication or information is managed strictly through the agency.
Preparation Of The Donor For Egg Retrieval
Development of the eggs is monitored by ultrasound and measurement of hormones in the surrogate egg donor’s blood. When egg development is at the appropriate stage, the ovulation process is triggered by an injection of medicine to allow the eggs to mature in time for the egg retrieval.
After the trigger medication, the eggs are retrieved from the ovary using an ultrasound probe inserted into the vagina. Then in a lab, the eggs are evaluated for maturity and the mature eggs are inseminated with sperm (either the male partner’s or donor sperm).
Surrogate Egg Donor Cost
In a surrogacy situation where both a surrogate egg donor and a gestational carrier are used, there will be two sets of costs. One for the egg donor and IVF process to fertilize the embryos. And one for the surrogacy agency and surrogate fees.
Cost Of Egg Donation
The overall cost of working with an egg donor will vary from couple to couple. For example, certain types of egg donors are in high demand due to their ethnic or religious background. Experienced egg donors with a high success rate are also very popular, and will therefore come at a higher price.
On average, a surrogate egg donor expects to be compensated between $5,000 and $10,000.
Then in addition to egg donor compensation, there will be other fees that intended parents should be aware of that are included in the process.
- Legal coordination between donor and prospective parents (approx. $800)
- Egg donor’s attorney fee, if applicable (approx. $800)
- Your egg donor’s psychological evaluation ( approx. $450)
- Insurance coverage for your surrogate egg donor (approx. $300)
- Escrow account management fees (generally $300, but price can vary depending on the escrow company you choose)
Intended parents should note that these fees DO NOT include any costs associated with the actual medical procedure or IVF (in vitro fertilization). Your fertility clinic can provide a complete breakdown of costs associated with the medical side of the egg donation process.
Cost Of Surrogacy
The cost of gestational surrogacy through an agency also varies and depends on a variety of factors, including what state you live in. In certain states where surrogacy is in high demand, the cost will be higher because you will need to compensate the surrogate more.
However, if you take the average across the entire country, you can expect to pay anywhere from $80,000 to $130,000 for gestational surrogacy.
As an example, Surrogacy By Faith (a California-based surrogacy agency) costs about $130,000 on average. This may seem pricey, but we provide the best benefits package for surrogates to ensure that they have a healthy pregnancy.
We also follow only the strictest requirements for becoming a surrogate, matching intended parents with the best candidates. In addition, we are one of the only surrogacy agencies in the entire country that does not support fetal reduction and/or pregnancy termination.
If there ever comes a point in the pregnancy where your treating physician suggests termination for medical reasons, Surrogacy By Faith’s very specific, one-of-kind legal contract gives our surrogates the final choice, without being in breach of contract.
For more information on surrogacy costs, including a complete breakdown of all fees associated with surrogacy see our related post: How Much Does Surrogacy Cost For Intended Parents?
Finding An Egg Donor and Surrogate
There are multiple sources for finding an egg donor. You may look into only one of them, or consider several before you select the option that best fits your family’s needs.
Using A Friend or Family Member
A friend or relative can donate eggs to you if they pass the psychological and medical screenings required of all egg donors. The added advantage of having a family member donate their eggs is that the child would be more closely connected to you genetically.
But before you decide to go this route it’s important to consider the ramifications of using a known familial surrogate egg donor. If a family member or friend is your donor, they will likely remain in contact with your child. They would not be the child’s legal “parent,” but they could have a relationship.
You will need to decide if that works for your family, or if it might cause emotional and/or psychological issues you would rather avoid. It’s a big decision, and not one that should be taken lightly. An attorney familiar with egg donation may be a good resource to walk you through the process.
Your Fertility Clinic or Surrogacy Clinic
The fertility clinic providing your IVF treatment may have a database of surrogate egg donors available. In fact, some clinics will only work with an egg donor that’s already part of their program and will not allow patients to use a separate agency. While other clinics offer more flexibility with the egg donor you choose to use.
Another thing to consider is that if you use an egg donor associated with your clinic, you may pay slightly less than you would using an agency. However, your options for donors may be more limited.
To learn more about finding a quality fertility clinic to work with on your surrogacy journey, see our related post: How To Find A Surrogacy Clinic.
Egg Donor Agency
There are agencies out there whose sole purpose is finding potential egg donors and connecting them to intended parents. An agency may be more expensive than going through your clinic, but your pool of potential donors could be much larger.
Egg donor agencies may also be able to help you find a donor with specific traits or characteristics that you desire. So if you know you want an egg donor from a specific cultural, ethnic or religious background – a donor agency may be able to match you with the right woman.
Egg banks are a newer way to go about the egg donation process. And it’s possible that an egg bank might be able to offer a slightly less expensive option for egg donor IVF.
With an egg bank, the donor has already gone through the donation cycle, and their eggs have been cryopreserved. This tends to make an egg bank the least expensive option per treatment cycle, aside from using a friend or family member.
Keep in mind though that the eggs will be retrieved and frozen far in advance of your cycle. Which might impact your odds for success. Also, the quality of the egg bank and the eggs themselves can vary widely. Currently, egg banks are not required to publish success rates, making it difficult to compare using their eggs with other donation options.
Finding A Surrogate
The best way to find a surrogate mother for your family is to work with a surrogacy agency. Reputable agencies are experts in surrogacy planning and matching. Intended parents who choose to work with an agency throughout their journey enjoy many benefits.
For starters, an agency would be responsible for the recruitment and pre-screening of potential surrogates, including background checks and medical reviews. All of this would be taken care of before you’d even see a surrogate’s profile. In addition, a surrogacy specialist will work with you to discuss your goals and find a surrogate mother who matches your family’s needs.
Agencies are also very familiar with the fertility process and can walk you through what to expect. They’ll also handle all the legal issues, including having a surrogacy contract drafted.
Surrogacy agencies are not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It’s important to do some research and find an agency whose values match your own.
To learn more, see our related post: How To Find The Best Surrogacy Agency.
Why Choose Surrogacy By Faith
Surrogacy by Faith is an agency based in Irvine, California, built on a foundation of Christian values. We believe the surrogacy process should be communicative and supportive. We begin each surrogacy journey sensitive to the needs, hopes, and values of the individual surrogates and intended parents—guided by our faith in God, we work with our clients to craft unique, personalized routes through the surrogacy process.
Since most agency staff members at Surrogacy By Faith have also been surrogates themselves, we understand the surrogacy process on a spiritual and emotional level. This allows us to offer sage advice throughout each phase of your journey.
At Surrogacy By Faith we have a 92% first time success rate for embryo transfers with our surrogates. Compare that to the national average, which ranges from just 40-60%.
We require all our intended parents to do the Pre-implantation Genetic Screening (PGS) prior to freezing their embryos. The PGS tests the genetics of the embryo, so we can be confident there are no abnormalities. This helps us reduce the chances of a failed transfer or early miscarriage.
If you’d like to learn more about our surrogacy agency, reach out to us. If you’re considering surrogacy to grow your family, fill out an intended parent or parents initial inquiry to begin your journey.